Because the English language is an international language, there are many, many different accents. These differences can be thought of as a problem by some, but not by us.
The Expressive English Alphabet has been designed specifically to allow English speakers from anywhere in the world to write with their own local accent. It gives us the ability to really express who we are and where we come from at the same time as giving all of us the means to communicate with each other clearly and simply.
Please find the Expressive English Alphabet below, along with a basic pronunciation guide:
Below is the more detailed alphabet list with explanations and examples to give more clarity into how and why each letter has been chosen to represent each of the sounds of English:
Single Letters of the Expressive English Alphabet:
Aᴀ – mate
Ôô – apple
Ŏŏ – are
If you’re from a Commonwealth country or similar, you will probably use the letter Ŏ in order to write the A sound in the ‘are’ (are = ŏ).
Ōō – are / hot
If you’re from the US, Canada or Ireland, then you quite probably will write both of these words with an Ō (are = ōꞋ / hot = hōт). If you’re from a Commonwealth country, then you will probably only write the word ‘hot’ with an Ō (hot = hōт).
Ȯȯ – more / law
There can be a difference in pronunciation between the ‘o’ in ‘more’ and the ‘aw’ in ‘law’ for many North Americans. However, both of these sounds are written with the same letter Ȯ in the Expressive English Alphabet.
This is because the ‘o’ sound in ‘more’ is always followed by an ‘r’. Whereas, the ‘aw’ sound in ‘law’ is never followed by an ‘r’. So it should be clear which sound the letter is representing.
For example: more = mȯꞋ / law = ʟȯ.
And in other accents, there is usually no difference between the pronunciation of the vowels in the two words ‘more’ and ‘law’, so in these other accents, the spelling would stay the same anyway.
Öö – boy
Oo – over
Ơơ – old
For some speakers, the sound of ‘o’ in ‘old’ may be the same as the ‘o’ sound in ‘over’. If that’s the case, then you don’t need to use the letter Ơ. Just use the O instead.
Ωꭥ – down
Bb – blue
Eᴇ – he
Ԑɛ – red
Iı – away
Ĭĭ – her
In some accents, the Ĭ sound can be replaced with Ԑ, E, I and even Ȯ. If that’s the case, feel free to use these other letters when necessary. For example, ᴌĭꞋc (work) could become ᴌıꞋc or ᴌȯꞋc.
İi – bin
Îî – eye
For some speakers, you may pronounce the Î in ‘price’ differently to the Î in ‘prize’. If you do this, then just use the letter Î for both sounds.
Hh – hill
Cc – kill and loch
Some speakers may pronounce a guttural ‘kh’ sound instead of a C in some words, like ‘loch‘ in Scottish accents, or ‘back‘ in a Scouse accent. Just use the letter C for each of these sounds.
Gɢ – go
Lʟ – like
Ɬᴌ – we / what
Some speakers will pronounce a ‘wh’ sound instead of just a ‘w’ in some words. If you do this, then just use the letter Ɬ for both.
This letter is in the shape of an L because some speakers may substitute the L for a Ɬ.
For example, instead of saying ‘well’, some may pronounce this word more like ‘wow’. Well = Ɬɛʟ / Ɬɛᴌ. If you speak like this, feel free to replace the L with the Ɬ when needed.
Mm – mat
Nn – no
Иŋ – sing
While pronouncing И/ŋ, some speakers may pronounce an extra G or C sound at the end of И/ŋ. For example, the word ‘thing’ could sound like ‘thing-g’ or ‘thing-k’.
If you speak like this, you don’t need to write an extra G or C at the end – just write the letter И/ŋ – ѓiŋ (thing).
However, if there is a word like ‘think’, with a definite, common C sound at the end, then of course you would write the C at the end – ѓiŋc (think).
Pp – power
R / ꭆ / Ꞌ – run
These letters represent not only the more common R sound in English, but the less common trilled R, like that of a strong Scottish accent.
The letter R is used if the 1st letter of the word is an ‘r’ and is also capitalised. ꭆ is used if the first letter of a word is an ‘r’, but it is not capitalised.
Every other time an ‘r’ is used, the letter Ꞌ is written as both a capital and a lowercase. This small Ꞌ exists in the Expressive English Alphabet because some speakers will pronounce every R in all instances, whereas other speakers will not.
For example, the word ‘runner’ could be written as ꭆûnıꞋ, with the Ꞌ at the end. It could also be written as ꭆûnı, without the Ꞌ at the end. The Ꞌ is small enough to be noticeable when it’s present, but it’s not too difficult to read the word when the Ꞌ isn’t present. An extreme example of the differences that can occur in one word between different accents, is darker, which could be: ꚍōꞋcıꞋ / ꚍŏcıꞋ / ꚍŏcı. Here, there can be two Ꞌ, one Ꞌ or there may be none, depending on the accent used.
Ss – sip
Ṡṡ – she
Zz – vision
Ƨᴤ – zebra
Ꚍꚍ – dog
The letter Ꚍ can be replaced with Ҭ.
Let’s take the word ‘drive’ as an example. If the Ꞌ is pronounced as a trilled sound, like in a strong Scottish accent, the Ꚍ will be present at the beginning – drive = ꚍꞋîꞇ.
But if the Ꞌ is not trilled, as is most common in English, the ‘d’ will quite probably be pronounced more as a Ҭ – drive = ҭꞋîꞇ.
Ԏԏ – this
In some accents, the Ԏ may instead be replaced with a Ꚍ.
For example, the word ‘mother’ could sound like ‘muhder’. If that’s the case in your accent, then you can replace the Ԏ with a Ꚍ.
In some accents, the Ԏ can also be replaced with a Ꞇ. For example, the word ‘mother’ may sound like ‘muhver’. If you speak like this, then you can use the Ꞇ instead of the Ԏ.
Mother = MûԏıꞋ / MûꚍıꞋ / Mûꞇı.
Ҭҭ – jump
Ꞇꞇ – very
Tт – time / partner
Some speakers may replace a T with a glottal stop.
For example, in the Cockney accent, the word ‘matter’ would sound more like ‘ma-er’. The stopping sound in the middle of the word is the glottal stop. Because the T and the glottal stop are usually interchangeable, both are represented by just the one letter T.
In your accent, you may replace the T with a Ꚍ sound. If that’s the case, then you can use the Ꚍ instead. Matter = Môтı / MôтıꞋ / MôꚍıꞋ.
Гг – chip
The letter Г can be replaced with T.
Let’s take the word ‘try’ for example. If the Ꞌ is pronounced as a trilled sound, like in a strong Scottish accent, the T will be used – try = тꞋî.
But if the Ꞌ is not trilled, as is most common in English, the T will quite probably be pronounced like a Г – try = гꞋî.
Ѓѓ – thin
In some accents, the Ѓ may instead be replaced with a T.
For example, the word ‘think’ could be changed to ‘tink’. If that’s the case in your accent, then you can replace the Ѓ with a T.
The Ѓ can also be replaced with an Ғ. For example, the word ‘think’ may sound like ‘fink’. If you speak like this, then you can use the Ғ instead of the Ѓ.
Think = Tiŋc / Ѓiŋc / Ғiŋc.
Ғғ – find
Uu – do
Ūū – up
Some speakers may replace the letter Ū with the letter Û.
For example: Fun = Ғūn / Ғûn. If you speak like this, then feel free to replace the Ū with the Û when needed.
Ûû – would
Üü – pool
Some speakers may not pronounce any difference between the letter Ü and the letter Û. If that’s the case for you, then you can choose which one you like and use it to write words like ‘wood’ and ‘pool’.
Yy – yet
Letter Combinations of the Expressive English Alphabet:
In this alphabet, there are many common sounds that are not represented by just one letter. These include, but are not limited to:
Aı ᴀı – mail
Öı öı – boil
Ωı ꭥı – hour
(this sound/letter combo may not be used in your accent – you may only use Ω ꭥ)
Eı ᴇı – here
Ԑı ɛı – there
Îı îı – tyre
ɢᴤ – example
cs – text
Ûı ûı – ƱƏ – during
(this sound/letter combo may not be used in your accent)
Grammatical Differences in the Expressive English Alphabet:
In this alphabet, we don’t use apostraphes (‘) within words. For example, in traditional English spelling, an apostraphe will be added before an S at the end of a word to indicate possesion or to shorten the word ‘is’ (Paul‘s / It‘s). Other examples of apostraphes being used to shorten words would be ‘isn’t’ or ‘can’t’.
In the Expressive English Alphabet, apostraphes are not needed within words as the above examples show. So, ‘Paul’s’ would be written as ‘Pȯʟᴤ’. ‘It’s’ would be written as ‘iтs’. ‘Isn’t’ would be written as ‘iᴤınт’. ‘Can’t’ would be written as ‘cŏnт’ or ‘cônт’.
No Linking Ɬ or Y:
In this alphabet, we don’t write a Ɬ or Y between two vowels. What does this mean?
In English, when we say two vowel sounds together, we will many times add a Ɬ or Y sound in between them. In traditional spelling, sometimes these letters are written, other times not. For example, the word ‘power’ has two vowel sounds together and the Ɬ is written to indicate the Ɬ sound in between them. However, the word ‘nail’ has two vowels, yet an unwritten Y sound between them.
So, as mentioned above, in the Expressive English Alphabet, we do not write this Ɬ or Y sound between two vowels. For example, the word ‘power’ would be written as ‘pꭥı’ or ‘pꭥıꞋ’and the word ‘nail’ would be written as ‘nᴀıʟ’.
The reason for not writing the Ɬ or Y between two vowels is because these sounds naturally occur when you move your mouth from one vowel to the other. We do not need to write them specifically because the sounds would happen either way. So, to make writing easier, we just don’t write these letters.
In the Expressive English Alphabet, capital letter rules are the same as traditional English.
So, capitalize every starting letter of each sentence and every starting letter of a proper noun, like a name of a person or place.
If you want to have a look at what this alphabet looks like in context, please go to our Read page.